Seaweed My Salty Savy Winter Friend

                                         Wakame flakes, dried. 

                                         Wakame flakes, dried. 

Forging our way through February let us harken back to an earlier post entitled “Defy the Detox” in which I adamantly chose not to succumb to any detox or "lose weight" new year’s resolutions.  Have I succeeded in my non-resolution resolution?   Oh yes!  I've been gluten full, poo-pooing the Paleo diet and trading in my juice fast for a life well lived in seasonal harmony. 

Embracing winter, I focus on the yin, to become more receptive, introspective, and storage oriented.  In my food life this quest takes the form of slow-cooked homemade chicken noodle soup, baked yams with turmeric and curry, roasted purple potatoes, whole grain biscuits, steel cut oatmeal, and breakfasts of sautéed collard greens with eggs.  As a result I have been warm, not cold.  I am full, not hungry.  I am fed, but not stuffed. But a challenge still awaited me.  It came from the sea, washing ashore in the form of seaweed.

Why Seaweed? Why Now?

Salty foods, along with the bitter foods, are best for winter as they promote a sinking, centering quality heightening the capacity for storage.  And seaweed tops the list in suggested healthy salty foods.  If you don't believe me, just Google "seaweed health benefits" and you will find a wealth of information on why you should be eating this stuff.  My own top 5 benefits of seaweed looks like this:

1.     Low in calories and fat.  The seaweed wakame has a pigmentation known as fucoxanthin, which burns fat and aids in insulin resistance.

2.    Great source of calcium, iodine, folate and magnesium. 

3.    Transforms phlegm.  Gross, right?  But if you’re trying to eradicate remnants of a cold or flu, reach for the seaweed. 

4.    Reduces swellings

5.    Benefits the thyroid

Say what you will about Dr. Oz and his media machine, but there is a great summary of the health benefits and suggested serving ideas for seaweed at his website at:  http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/mao-shing-ni-lac-dom-phd/seaweed-miracle-vegetable-sea.  And for a fair and balanced look at seaweed and its health benefits, particularly those substantiated by Western medical world, check out:  http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/24/health/la-he-seaweed-20120524.  My husband found the following article on the sexual health benefits of seaweed particularly intriguing,  at:  http://www.naturalnews.com/042037_seaweed_sexual_health_natural_medicine.html#ixzz2tEJoB2Nc.

There you have it.  Time to eat some seaweed.  But how?

Seaweed Kitchen Adventures

I often start my cooking adventures with a peek inside the produce box, using what eroots has to offer.  This week’s gifts came in the form of shitake mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and mustard greens.  A good aspirational start, I thought.  From this beginning came the following recipe. 

Salty Seaweed Soup for Health and Healing

Ingredients

Sweet potato, cut into chunks, about half of a big potato

Fresh ginger, grated, about 2-3 teaspoons

Garlic – two cloves chopped

Shiitake mushrooms – 2-3 tops, stems discarded

Seaweed – about 2-3 tablespoons, maybe more if you like

Vegetable stock – 2-3 cups

 

Guidance

First I soak the seaweed and mushrooms together in warm water for 10 minutes, like this:

photo(11).JPG

Then I take out the mushrooms, cut off the stems, and slice lengthwise.  Don't dump out the seaweed and water.  Save it for later. 

Then I place what was left of the water and seaweed into a soup pot, throw in the rest of the ingredients, add enough vegetable stock to cover it all and simmered on low heat until the potatoes were cooked.  If you leave it to sit for a while the seaweed will help thicken the broth.   And it turns out like this:

IMG_2506.JPG

 

What's In It For You

Garlic helps fight infection and boost your immune system, ginger supports healthy digestion, and seaweed cleanses. Shiitake mushrooms contain coumarin, polysaccharides and sterols, as well as vitamins and minerals which will also increase immune function.  Sweet potato adds a different texture and contains a lot of Vitamin C to help ward off cold and flu viruses.  Simmer it all together into soup and you have some great flavor and taste, perfect for a winter night. 

What about the mustard greens? 

Well, I forgot to add them. Oops.  I guess I have tomorrow's breakfast, sauteed mustard greens and eggs.